I’m the default cook in the kitchen, and it’s still the case when we go camping for the weekend. I plan the meals, prep the components and make it happen onsite. For this I’m rewarded with numerous kisses.
We’d been cooking at camp over the open fire, as we did according to our memories growing up—the hot dogs on a stick, the s’mores, the coffee in its blue percolator. Opening the tent up to the warm, fruity aroma of coffee can’t be beat, nor can the burnt crustiness of a scorched hot dog. It’s what gives camping its charm and the enjoyment of nature its naughtiness.
But when the wood is wet, or the fire isn’t lighting, and it takes an hour to boil water, roughing it takes its toll. And since Dan’s in charge of the fire and I’m in charge of the food, it’s a real situation when he can’t make fire because I haven’t made coffee because he hasn’t made fire…
One of the many changes we made to our camping routine this year was to cook by propane stove. It was all Dan’s idea.
But it’s made camping so much easier for the both of us. It gives both of us agency—Dan can make his coffee when he wants it, and I can make a cooking fire when I need it. The biggest and best changes are that (a) it has cut down on total prep/cook/clean up time, allowing us to do other stuff, like hiking and (b) it has allowed us to expand our menu to include things like seared salmon with balsamic fig vinaigrette.
Now that we’re no longer “roughing it”, I am taking much more seriously my role as camp cook. I chop, cut, measure and mix before hand as much as I can so that we take only what is necessary. I’ve whittled us down to three essential stovetop pieces: the coffee pot, the 8” cast iron skillet, and the All-Clad double burner griddle.
We’re cleaning up and stowing our gear for next summer. During the offseason, I will still try to plan our menus and perfect the camp kitchen. I asked Dan what recipe I should share with this post, and he suggested goat cheese quesadillas, something we had just about every trip. It’s been our go-to Friday eve dinner, since it’s deliciously filling and doesn’t require much effort.
We got the inspiration from Campfire Cuisine by Robin Donovan (Random House, 2013). But who needs a recipe? It’s just tortillas and some goat cheese. We swear by Vermont Creamery.
Our model was a Coleman Perfectflow Instastart 2 burner stove. Coleman did not pay me to endorse this product. Photos are mine, taken from this summer.